The last decade has seen progress in all areas of gender equality in HE and in our wider society, there has been positive impacts from making organisations publish their gender pay gaps, greater gender diversity in senior roles and on boards. However gender based violence and harassment is still an issue for all and progress is still slower than it should be. This progress is also at risk of being compromised with the arrival and ongoing impacts of Covid-19?
The pressures of home working, burdens of unpaid caring responsibilities, job vulnerability and adverse impacts on promotion opportunities that have arisen as a consequence of the current global pandemic risks sending the progress made into reverse.
Moving forward, there is a danger that we focus on the undoubtedly negative impact that Covid-19 has had on women’s equality and conflate remote working with increased childcare and domestic responsibilities as well as poor mental health and wellbeing. Yet remote working is not new and has been a key tool pre Covid19 to support women’s equality and career progression. This alongside better technological options offers immense possibility to allow and enable women to better balance the
personal and the professional and enable participation in opportunities vital for success and thriving.
Now is the time for a discussion around how we reflect on the what has happened through the pandemic but work together to avoid regression and harness opportunity – to ‘build back better’ for gender equality.
Join the conversation at #WomenHEConf21
The Advance HE Women in HE Conference 2021 will take a look back at the insights we have gained from our work on gender equality over the course of the last 12 months through the Athena Swan Charter, the publication of the 5 year Aurora longitudinal study (which will be published in January 2021) and the findings of our recently launched survey into the impact of the shift to greater home working through Covid-19 on gender. We will use these insights and those of others from within and outside of the sector through our invited guest speakers and contributors to consider solutions and options for gender progression at this time of huge challenge for all in HE.
The aims of the Women in HE Conference 2021 are to:
- Share insights and learnings from studies inside and external to Advance HE on the impact of Covid-19 for women - where have we lost ground and why?
- Use these insights to gain a better sense of what works for gender equality more widely
- Offer opportunities to discuss and consider options and solutions that enable us to maintain and achieve growth in progress, or ‘build back better’ harnessing the changes for positive benefit
- Connect a community of peers that can aid and support each other during times of change and challenge
Michelle Ryan is a Professor of Social and Organisational Psychology at the University of Exeter, UK and a (part-time) Professor of Diversity at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands. She currently holds a European Research Council Consolidator Grant to investigate how context constrains women’s careers choices. She is involved in a number of other research projects.
Alison was appointed chief executive of Advance HE in autumn 2017. Prior to that she was the chief executive of the Leadership Foundation. She has worked in higher education for 25 years. Before becoming chief executive, she was head of policy for leadership, governance and management at the Hefce (now the Office for Students), where she established both the Leadership Foundation and the Equality Challenge Unit.
She is a past president of the Association of University Administrators (AUA) and represents the UK on the Association of Commonwealth Universities Human Resources Management Network and has recently joined the British Council’s planning committee for Going Global, the major international higher education conference.
Ellen is a Senior Adviser at Advance HE specialising in Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. She has many years of experience working to promote equality, in particular gender and disability equality in the higher education sector across the UK. Ellen has been a member of several Joint Negotiating Committees for Higher Education Staff working groups to improve understanding and information on gender pay issues in the HE sector. She has worked with the Government Equalities office and Equality and Human Rights Commission to inform gender pay gap reporting requirements and the code of practice on the statutory Equal Pay Code of Practice. She has previously commissioned and worked closely with Sue Hastings on ECU’s 2010 guidance for EDI practitioners Promoting Equality in Pay.
Exploring the impact of COVID-19 responses and remote working in HE survey
Our survey on remote working to better understand the experiences of all staff is now live until 18 December 2020. What are the barriers you face, how do you like to engage with colleagues and what measures might be effective in addressing them? Remote working will certainly remain in a post Covid-19 era but for women’s equality to progress we need to ensure that the remote working environment supports their day-to-day work and career progression.
The full findings of the survey will be shared at the Women in HE Conference 2021.